Supervisors’ lowest priority: Helping city’s jobless 

With a year under its belt, the characteristics of the Board of Supervisors are coming into focus, and it’s fair to say that certain words scream out — self-aggrandizing, sanctimonious and, with increasing evidence, downright silly.

But you knew that.

As it turns out, the most surprising detail about our group of far-left-leaning officials is that they’re simply scared — afraid of new ideas, frightened of possible solutions, paralyzed by ideals that advance no goals, not even their own.

How else to explain why the board’s leadership, such as it is, has so far refused to even schedule a hearing on a series of tax-cutting proposals aimed at generating jobs in one of the worst economic periods during the nation’s history? It reveals a political perspective so narrow it couldn’t fit into one leg of a pair of skinny jeans.

It’s nothing new that the so-called progressives on the board thrive on a fallback position of anti-corporate stridency while at the same time trying to reward their allies in labor with millions in budget funds that The City clearly does not have.

Worse yet is that the board’s majority — which lies on its sword swearing allegiance to minorities and the poor — won’t even consider legislation that could give a boost to a working class most in need of jobs.

If only rhetoric paid the bills.

Supervisor John Avalos, who heads the board’s budget committee, said he’s not convinced that the tax-cutting legislation proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom would result in job growth.

Yet, the board, in a previous configuration, supported tax breaks for biotech firms a few years back, and the number of businesses in the industry in San Francisco jumped from two to 56. Newsom wants to extend that payroll exemption, give a similar break to businesses on new hires for two years and extend a $2,000 tax credit to offset the cost of providing health insurance.

Avalos contends that the reason the board shouldn’t set a hearing on the tax proposals is that its majority would never support it. And to that I would say: Since when is a board chock-full of Democrats no longer democratic?

Or, to put it into the myopic vision shared by most of its members: Would the board have spent months debating changes in San Francisco’s sanctuary policy if it knew the mayor and Police Department wouldn’t enforce it? As they say down at the Hall of Justice, asked and answered.

San Francisco’s unemployment rate is just under 10 percent, and any proposals that could get those people back to work are worth considering. But the only ideas to surface in supervisors’ offices to offset record deficits are to consider increasing taxes on businesses and property owners.

Let me see if I have this straight: More people have less money, and you want to raise their taxes?

“I have not heard one piece of job legislation to come out of the board in the last year,” Newsom said. “This is the No. 1 issue in The City. If the board has some better ideas, I’m more than happy to hear them. But at least let us have that debate.”

I would be happy to tell you the board’s official response, but its president, Supervisor David Chiu, declined to respond to my call — perhaps because he’s too busy trying to make sure homeowners can’t build new garages on their properties, another grand social experiment.

Still, no matter how you view tax incentives, it would be nice to hear what the experts have to say, and there’s no better forum than at a scheduled public hearing before a televised audience. I’m sure there are plenty of people itching to weigh in on the matter, including members of the labor unions that the supervisors support, especially during election season.

At this time last year, Chiu was telling all concerned that this was going to be a new and nicer board, lacking the acrimony and vindictiveness of the last, which would work with the executive branch to deal with the critical issues facing San Francisco.

That was so 2009.

Instead, we get a panel that won’t even debate certain matters because they’re not in keeping with the board’s agenda. That may make certain propagandists feel better, but they don’t include businesses that actually employ people.

And when was the last time in San Francisco that people can’t get a hearing? All you need is a bullhorn and a soapbox to demand attention down around the Civic Center.

But I am happy to report that the board is considering a ban on duck feeding in city parks, since it apparently forgot to include that in the legislation that prohibited feeding wild parrots.

That should give unemployed workers more time to focus on job hunting.

Ken Garcia appears Tuesdays and Fridays in The Examiner. Check out his blog at or e-mail him

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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